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Gong spoke to CNN through phone calls, letters and emails, though he declined to discuss specifics about his conviction on heroin trafficking charges, which were handed down while he was in prison. Gong hoped that sharing parts of his story would bring attention to what he feels are his unfairly long sentences. He was handed another 27 years in prison for heroin trafficking in addition to his first life sentence. After nearly 40 years behind bars, Gong believes he has paid his debt to society and should not be “left to rot and die, forgotten and forsaken by everyone I know.
“I know I am not an angel, but I am still a human being,” Gong said.
Born in 1960 in Malaysia, Gong turned to a life of crime at a young age. His father owned a timber company in Indonesia and was often away, and his mother had six children — too many to focus on controlling her wayward son. That left Gong, as he put it, to “run the streets.
He joined a gang at 12 years old and eventually became a lieutenant. By 20 he was in a Malaysian jail, serving a two-year sentence after several run-ins with the law. Following his release in 1982, he went to the US. Within about a year, he was in prison for Yim’s abduction. At first, Gong found incarceration to be “mostly boredom and drudgery.” He needed something to spice up his day-to-day existence. So, after an introduction from another inmate, he turned to heroin dealing.
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